Custom Built vs. Template Built

May 31, 2018

Should you hire someone to make a custom built site or is it better to go with a template built site like Squarespace & WIX…

Custom built and template built web sites are both very useful with their own pluses and minuses.  What is right for you depends on several variables which I decided to write about from a developers / business consultants point of view.  I must admit that years ago when I heard about companies that were offering template driven web sites (WIX, Squarespace, GoDaddy Builder, etc…), I was a little nervous that my revenue was going to be chipped away.  What my experience and market trending has taught me however is that there is space for both custom design sites (which I handle 85% of the time) and the template driven sites (which I also help to handle about 15% of the time).

Here is a list of the pros and cons for both models.  While you read this, its important for you to consider how you can utilize a web designer (such as yours truly) to help you get the most out of either approach.

Template Driven Sites like WIX and Squarespace

PROS:

  • Very low costs – you pay $25 a month to Squarespace or WIX, plus purchase any stock photography and thats about it.  Everything else can be your labor and you don’t pay anyone if you wish to do the entire thing on your own.
  • Quicker to build – A web developer might need few days before they can jump on your project.  You want it all done this weekend and you have the time?  Get it done.
  • Can Be Simple – The surface stuff is simple to lay out and build.  Its almost like using a Word document tool.  If you need a simple who, what, when, where, how type of stuff, its not that hard to create.
  • Use a Pro at a Much Lower Cost – You can still utilize someone like me to have the site built out and maintained, and because large chunks of the code engine are done, its much cheaper to have the site built out.  So why would you want to work with a designer / developer when you can do the whole site?  A designer / developer offers a better understanding of how the site model should function.  They can fine tune and photoshop your visuals to give it a strong visual brand.  Plus they can help you hone in on critical keyphrases and keywords that will gain you higher traffic and greater site stickiness.

CONS:

  • Not Much Uniqueness  – You are dealing with cookie cutter set of templates to choose from and sooner or later as you are surfing around, you will see your template used by someone else.  Yikes.
  • Limited customization – Most of these sites are cookie cutters with tons of features that are watered down or possibly not even present.  If your business is growing you will start to realize how limiting these tools can be.
  • Coding Errors Take Long Time to Fix – Occasionally an error comes up and it takes these companies a very long time to correct it throughout.  There is nothing you can do but wait.
  • Minimal functionality – all features that are offered are heavily truncated.  Their approach is to make things simple for all end users, but this simplicity for everyone often causes a watered down version.
  • So-so Support – What type of technical support do you think you are going to get when you pay a company $25 a month?  Good luck finding an actual phone number to call someone.
  • When they are Gone, its gone– Some companies go out of business entirely and then what?  Where is your content, images and other assets.
  • $25/ month X 12months X 4 or 7 years… – It suddenly starts to look like real money.  I build a lot of sites for under 1K and there is no monthly fees when its done.  Something to consider unless you only want a site for a few months.

Custom Design Web Sites – Projects developed by a designer from scratch

PROS:

  • 100% Customizable and Flexible – visual brand identity, unique application look and feel, behavior of features such as commerce, abandoned carts, promotional popups and others, its all super customizable.
  • Unlimited Functionality –  If you can think of a cool function to make your site amazing, I can build it; ecommerce, lead databases, real time customer support chat, backend integrations with fulfillment firms, follow up newsletters or emails, etc.
  • Knowledgeable support and troubleshooting from me, over phone – You call me, we talk and I fix things, often right over the phone.  I care about your project and your success because ultimately your success leads to more service work from me.  This is synergy 101.
  • Your Site, Forever – When a site is done you get a full copy of everything from me.  Its yours forever whether you want it live now or in 2 years you own all the files.
  • Intelligent SEO – No cookie cutter SEO implementation.  Its all unique and handled by me.  I am a marketing major Cornell grad and I understand marketing very well.  I spend the time researching main keywords, complimentary keyphrases, and much more.  I can offer a comprehensive marketing plan and its unique to your business.

CONS:

  • Larger initial cost – Initial costs is the agreed upon price of what I will charge you for the project.  The good news however is that once I am done building your site, I don’t charge you a monthly fee. Its paid for and its done and no $25 or $80 a month fee.
  • Takes longer to develop – Quality takes time.

What site approach you go with?

If you’re on a very tight budget go with templated site and I will help you out at a smaller cost to get an elegant look and feel, prep the content for keywords and take care of other essential things.  This is all at a very low budget.

If you have a small budget but are slammed with a ton of work then go with template and consult with me about it.  I can handle the writing, the photography, and the overall build out to give you a good presence without you having to put a ton of effort into it.

If you are serious about building something unique and super customizable to your services or products, then consider getting a small agile web site that will get you going online and is custom built.

If you are serious about a presence with great features and functions you will need something solid and powerful, custom all the way.